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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

September 8, 2020 (AM)

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Simultaneous interpretation services for this video are provided by a third party.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

REPORTER: I would like to […] ask a question about the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). From September 19, the Government has expressed its intent to loosen its restrictions on the number of spectators for events or live sports. Could you please share the latest updates on the state of the review and its outlook moving forward, along with whether a decision will be made by September 19 regarding the addition of travel to and from Tokyo to be eligible under the “Go to Travel Campaign”?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: Firstly, regarding the restrictions on the number of spectators for events, the Government sought the views of the experts of its subcommittee (on COVID-19 countermeasures) at the end of August, and decided, for the time being, to uphold the current limits on the percentage of capacity or the number of people until the end of September. In the meantime, if the situation is deemed to be settling down, the Government will review the restrictions. Against this backdrop, the Government will respond accordingly while consulting the experts. As for the eligibility of Tokyo under the Go to Travel Campaign, as I have stated before, the Government intends to make a decision based on the epidemiological situation and the views of experts.
REPORTER: I have a question on the economy. The revised estimate for gross domestic product (GDP) for the April-June quarter was announced today, which was adjusted downward to a 28.1% decline in GDP. The July consumption expenditures also fell far short of forecasts at -7.6%. There continues to be a pronounced economic downturn resulting from the spread of infections. Please share your view on them and how the Government sees the necessity for further economic measures, including the use of contingency funds.
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: Firstly, the revised (second preliminary) estimates of GDP for the April-June quarter continue to represent the largest downturn in the postwar period. The Family Income and Expenditure Survey for July shows continued severe conditions. First of all, amid such circumstances, it is important to protect employment and ensure business continuity. The Government is continuing to implement various measures to that end, including the Sustainability Subsidy (Subsidy Program for Sustaining Businesses) of up to 2 million yen, as well as the Employment Adjustment Subsidies and the provision of interest-free unsecured loans provided by the Japan Finance Corporation and other financial institutions up to a maximum of 40 million yen. Furthermore, we are extending full support to the many industries that have been impacted by COVID-19, such as implementing the “Go To Travel Campaign” for the tourism industry, while ensuring that the necessary infection countermeasures are firmly in place. The Government will continue to swiftly implement the necessary measures based on the situation moving forward.
REPORTER: I have a question about the disbursement of contingency funds. I believe that today’s Cabinet meeting made a decision to additionally disburse contingency funds for COVID-19 countermeasures. Could you once again explain the purposes and aims?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: A Cabinet decision was made to disburse 671.4 billion yen in contingency funds for securing a supply of vaccines. To that end, we have thus far concluded agreements for securing 120 million vaccines from U.S. company Pfizer by next June, and 120 million vaccines from U.K. company AstraZeneca from early next year, 30 million of which we will receive by next March. In addition, we are engaged in negotiations premised on receiving over 40 million vaccines by the first half of 2021 from U.S. company Moderna, which are to be sold and distributed domestically via Takeda Pharmaceutical. The recently approved budgetary measures are for these efforts, and the Government intends to continue to advance negotiations towards reaching a final conclusion.
REPORTER: […] There have been media reports that Vice-President Coates of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said that the Games will be held as planned next year, regardless of the state of the pandemic. As seen in stock prices of the relevant companies, his statement is building up some positive momentum. If I may ask once again, is it correct to understand that next year’s Games will be neither postponed nor cancelled?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: First of all, I am not aware of the details of the statement you mentioned. On September 4, a meeting was held among the national government, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee regarding COVID-19 countermeasures for the Tokyo Games. Such discussions will continue, with a view to reaching an interim arrangement by the end of the year. Concerning the Games to be held next year, the venues and competition schedule were confirmed at the IOC Session held in July. The Government intends to continue to prepare for the Games, collaborating closely with the stakeholders, in order to realize a safe and secure environment for athletes and spectators alike.

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